Date of Graduation

12-2019

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Psychology (MA)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Psychological Science

Advisor

Jennifer C. Veilleux

Committee Member

Denise R. Beike

Second Committee Member

Tim A. Cavell

Keywords

Behavioral, Cognitive, Dialectical behavior therapy, Emotion, Emotion regulation, Opposite action

Abstract

While research demonstrates that opposite action (OA) impacts emotion (Rizvi & Linehan, 2005), we lack an understanding of the mechanisms by which it produces opposite emotions. The current study dismantled emotion regulation skill components by comparing tasks with different combinations of cognitive, emotive and behavioral components. I predicted that the OA condition would be the most effective in altering negative emotion. University students (n = 194) completed a sadness induction and were randomly assigned to either a (1) control, (2) low arousal positive imagery (3) high arousal positive imagery, or (4) OA plus high arousal positive imagery condition. The control condition experienced the smallest changes in emotion in the predicted directions across most emotion outcomes, followed by the low arousal positive imagery condition and last, the OA and high arousal positive imagery conditions, which did not tend to differ from each other. Using opposite emotion (valence and arousal) was effective in changing sadness; however, the behavioral component did not change emotion above and beyond the cognitive and emotive components tested. Study conditions were not different in the time they spent persisting on a distressing task. The behavioral component of OA might not be important for emotion change; however, it seems likely that self-reported levels of discomfort and vividness in mental imagery experienced by the OA condition hindered the effectiveness of the behavioral component. This finding could shed light on the importance of building therapeutic rapport to increase comfortability engaging in OA prior to introducing it in psychotherapy.

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